Occlusal guards & splints are two types of protective oral appliances that can be prescribed by a dental professional. There are different types of guards and splints that can be used to both prevent and treat dental issues.
An occlusal guard, commonly known as night guards, bite guards, or mouthguards, are removable devices that fit over the teeth.
They are used to treat bruxism, which is the grinding and/or clinching together of one’s teeth while sleeping. Bruxism can place excess strain on the jaw joint and can also cause the teeth to become damaged or prematurely worn. Wearing an occlusal guard at night, usually called a night guard, helps to prevent tooth damage and decrease the severity of bruxism.
Sports Mouth Guard
Sports mouthguards are another type of occlusal guard that is used to protect the teeth. Unlike a night guard, however, sports mouth guards are usually designed to fit over both the teeth and gums. While night guards are also used over one arch, some variations of sports mouth guards can be made to fit over both the upper and lower teeth. Sports mouthguards may be required for certain sports, and are highly recommended for any type of contact sport.
Occlusal splints are orthotic devices that treat certain conditions, such as TMJ/TMD and OSA, by addressing specific symptoms.
Although night guards are a type of occlusal guard, they are also a type of occlusal splint. As mentioned above, these guards are used to treat bruxism in order to minimize jaw tension.
A stabilization splint works by covering the entire surface of the teeth. This allows the splint to act as a biting surface, which decreases tooth grinding and relaxes the jaw muscles.
A repositioning split is effective for treating bruxism that is caused by a misaligned bite. These splints reposition the jaw so that the bite is corrected. This reduces jaw strain. In some cases, repositioning splints can also be used to maintain an open airway, which can be used in the treatment of OSA.
This device only covers the front two top teeth. This creates a barrier that forces the jaw muscles to relax and prevents bruxism.